Interview With the Artist: Roberlan

Colorful. Expressive. Humorous. Energetic. Unyielding. The work of Brazilian artist Roberlan Borges Paresqui is simultaneously eye-catching, unforgettable, and unbound in its irreverence.

Roberlan (Self-Portrait) by Roberlan

Roberlan works primarily in vector. For those who don’t know what vector is, think of it like this. A digital photo is raster. It’s made up of many small squares called pixels. When you try to make a photo bigger on the computer, it’s really taking those squares and just making them larger. The effect is that the photo seems blocky – this is called pixelation.

On the other hand, vector works completely different. It’s not based on pixels at all. It’s based on shapes and lines that the computer generates and applies color and transparency to. Programs like Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape use vector instead of raster.

It’s a great way to work when you don’t know what size you’re going to need an artwork to be, because it’s versatile and doesn’t lose quality. Because of this, many designers and artists have gravitated towards it. Nowadays, vector art has taken on a life of its own, with its own styles and rules. Roberlan is one of its masters.

Much of his work is based off his experience in design:

I started working on the signage industry and later advertising. I always drew and doodled a lot, but only a few years later took illustration seriously.

Some of his earlier work seem to be influenced by old soviet poster designs, which can be seen in his artwork “Dirty Sarah” and “Bush War.” Since both pieces are criticisms of the GOP, and the GOP and the Soviet Union are strange bedfellows, it’s a good use of an iconic art style to see two public officials parodied in this way.

Bush War by Roberlan        Dirty Sarah by Roberlan

His influence from other time periods doesn’t stop there. Especially in his older work, Roberlan takes cues from a variety of vintage posters from different eras:

Visually my inspirations were always pop culture (TV, cinema and music) and advertising. The way they try to show us a world of their own. Their reality always fascinated me somehow, and always made me think, “I want to do that, but with images.” Like, if I can make people see the world through my eyes. Also vintage art always fascinated me, all the innocence they had back then.

What a Lovely War by Roberlan     Smoking by Roberlan

His artwork, “What a Lovely War,” is a great example of this. It shows two women inspecting a bomb, executed like a vintage advertisement using a lot of line and a restrained color palette. Similarly, the aptly named “Smoking” is a parody of a vintage smoking ad, that claims at first “Will not KILL you,” but leaves us with the addendum, “OK, we’re lying… will make you terribly ill and will kill you. Sorry!”

It’s no coincidence that these are all influenced by how he sees the world:

I’m trying to get people to stop and think about some social and political questions like justice, peace, hypocrisy, crime, violence, and wars, among others. That’s why I criticize TV a lot in some of my works. I think when they see a TV commercial of a politician’s speech they don’t care too much, like, “Oh, another commercial.” But when they see those issues on a digital artwork or even a painting they stop and think about that. So I’m trying to do my humble part to make the world a better place.

But for Roberlan, creating art also goes beyond the message.

Creating art is something that was always a natural part of my life since I was very young. And art being part of my life, if I’m not making art, I´m not living.

If you watch his Facebook page, you’ll see that Roberlan is doing so much living that he doesn’t seem to need to sleep. He updates frequently, without his work lacking in quality. This may be because motivation is no stranger to him.

If a certain idea is not good or not worth working on, forget it … An idea pops in my head, I open up illustrator and work on it. Thats it! If the end result is good this motivates me to create more. If the end result is not what I expect (never bad, there’s no “bad” in art) first I save it to the “Fails Folder,” then I take some time and try again exploring different solutions to see if i can make it work.

But what about the days when you’re uninspired or unmotivated?

If for some reason I’m “uninspired” or “demotivated,” I open up Illustrator and start sketching something. Only I don’t have the idea to begin with. No matter what, I just start with something- a vector, a doodle. And as I start working and the piece is progressing the ideas start to show, things start to take place and this motivates me to create more. The basic principle is, “don’t keep waiting for a little lightbulb to magically appear with sparkles and give you magic ideas. JUST. KEEP. WORKING.”

So what makes the cut?

What makes me feel good, makes me smile.

Roberlan is also an advocate for other artists. He was featured in Adobe Master Class: Illustrator, a book that was highly anticipated by the vector crowd. For aspiring artists, he had this to say:

To always be a creative and active person, question everything, see though the ordinary things the beauty of everyday. Try different mediums, color palettes, softwares. Work on different projects. Never be afraid to try or fail. Summing up: DARE.

His one piece of advice to other artists:

“Open your eyes.” Really. Pay attention to everything surrounding you. Even the most boring and ordinary things.

But that shouldn’t stop those of us without an artistic bone in our body to stretch our imaginations.

I think art, and creativity in general, are some of the few things that could really save the world. Really. Living in a third world country I see examples all the time of people getting rid of a life of crime, drugs, and violence with art. In some cities they teach art in schools and in those cities there are lower crime rates. And in life in general you need to be creative in all areas. I think everyone should seek a form of creativity, be they business ideas, making life better, or putting their creative ideas and visions into works of art. Thats really important.

If you wander over to Roberlan’s site and take a look at his “˜About’ page, you’ll find this quote by Georgia O’Keeffe, “I found that I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way ““ things that I had no words for.” Years ago, she couldn’t have known the effect her words would have on the future, and this particular artist. But for when you look at Roberlan’s work, nothing else could be so succinct.

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Bipolar Gurl

Bipolar Gurl is an artist and... well, that's about it really. Multi-talented she is not.

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